One of the biggest expenses in my household is prescription drugs. My wife, my kids and I all take prescription medications. The drugs my wife takes are the most expensive. She has diabetes. Until recently, we had no health insurance at all. With prescription drug bills totaling more than $1,000 a month, we were in serious trouble.

A lot of families in the U.S. find themselves in a similar situation. How did we survive on one income and still manage to get our medications? I don't want to say we did it easily, because it certainly was not easy, but we did find some ways to save money on prescription drugs.

1. Buy generics whenever possible. Ask your doctor if there is a generic equivalent for your medications.

2. Bargain shop. The price difference from store to store can be huge. In fact, Wal-mart recently lowered the price of many of the most common generic drugs to just four dollars.
Making a few phone calls can save you a lot of money.

3. Shop online...but only on reputable sites. Drugstore.com is a good option and it can save you some cash.

4. Mail order. If your health plan offers drugs by mail order, take them up on it. You can usually get three month's worth of medications at a time, and it comes at a cost savings.

5. Check out your state's prescription assistance programs. Many of these are based upon your income, but you may qualify.

6. Check out the web site of the company that makes your medications. Many pharmaceutical companies have their own prescription assistance programs. These are also income-based, but you could qualify for low priced or free drugs.

7. Partnership for Prescription Assistance. This site is a clearinghouse for prescription assistance programs.

4 comments

  1. Anonymous // September 7, 2007 at 9:13 PM  

    Another way to save is to ask your physician for free samples. He typically has thousand's of dollars worth on hand compliments of the pharmaceutical rep.

  2. SavvyFrugality // September 8, 2007 at 6:54 PM  

    That's a good point! My wife and I both save a couple of hundred dollars on prescription drugs because our doctors or their nurses gave us some samples to tide us over until we could fill our prescriptions. It's especially worth asking for if the drug is not available in generic form.

  3. Anonymous // September 9, 2007 at 7:28 AM  

    I've coached my mother and in-laws to tell their doctor "I can't afford to pay for drug-x, what can you do for me?" when their doctors write a prescription.

    I recall reading (can't remember the source) that the average GP makes over $3k /year (commissions) from the legal drug companies for prescribing their drugs.

  4. Lily // November 3, 2008 at 4:09 PM  

    Generic medications are a great way to keep your prescription drug costs down. I’ve seen ads on TV for Caduet. It has two ingredients. One is Amlodipine and the other is Atorvastatin. With my RxDrugCard I can get 30 tablets of Amlodipine for $9 and 30 tablets of Simvastatin for $9. I’ll bet they are charging more than $18 for this new drug! The unthinking public is going to pressure their doctors into giving them something just because it’s new, when something old or generic would do the job for cheaper.

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